Northern Ireland

CBI backs prescription charge return in Northern Ireland

Prescription charges in Northern Ireland were abolished in April 2010.
Prescription charges in Northern Ireland were abolished in April 2010.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Northern Ireland has said it supports the re-introduction of prescription charges.

In its most recent report, it said the cost for removing charges was closer to £30m rather than the £13m previously estimated.

Health Minister Edwin Poots is also on record as saying the cost was much higher.

Prescription charges in NI were abolished in April 2010.

Mr Poots has previously said he is considering bringing back prescription charges to pay for life-saving drugs.

The CBI report said that while it welcomed the proposed consultation on charging, it should take into consideration those who genuinely could not afford to pay.

The confederation also called on the NI executive to pursue public service reform with greater urgency.

The four areas the CBI said should be targeted were health, education, housing and policing and justice.

Re-balancing

It said it welcomed the steps the executive had taken on delivering services.

However, it expressed concern at the progress of several reform programmes.

The CBI has published a report called Moving up a gear - Assessing the pace of public service reform in Northern Ireland.

It called for more progress in the executive's stated aim of rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy through the opening up of public services to competition.

"We remain concerned at the absence of joined-up thinking when it comes to aspects of reform and a concerning lack of momentum," Ian Coulter, CBI Northern Ireland chairman said.

"The executive needs to find better ways and means to deliver public services that achieve better value for taxpayers' money and which can also lead to job creation.

"While some progress is apparent, we fear that it does not prepare Northern Ireland adequately enough for the continued fiscal challenges post-2015.

"Our subvention from Westminster has risen from £6.3bn in 2006/07 to £10.5bn in 2010/11. This is simply unsustainable and faster change is needed."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites